This month there have been a couple of interesting family law cases splashed over the newspapers.
The case of Ian and Tracey Wright has stirred up the issue of spousal maintenance.
They were married for 11 years. He is a millionaire race horse surgeon.
Since their divorce a few years ago she has been receiving £75k in maintenance and school fees. She has also had a £450k house bought for her mortgage free.
The Judge hearing Ian’s application for his ex-wife’s maintenance to be reduced told Tracey to “get a job” and stop assuming she was going to be maintained for life.
Whilst clearly about a wealthy couple there are ramifications for the less well off.
Then there has been the case of Dale Vince and Kathleen Wyatt. They married in 1981, had a son and then divorced in 1992.
Kathleen got custody of the son and in circumstances which have been described as financially challenging she brought him up with little financial help from Dale.
After the divorce, Dale originally lived in a converted ambulance but then in 1995 he founded Ecotricity a company that has been very successful.
It also made Dale very wealthy. He is said to be worth £107 million.
Now 23 years after their divorce Kathleen has returned to court to seek a share of his wealth.
The Supreme Court has ruled Kathleen can proceed with a claim. The media have seized on it as opening the floodgates to long divorced spouses popping up again if their ex-spouse becomes wealthy BUT the case needs to be put in context.
Firstly, the problem for Dale was he and Kathleen did not enter into a final financial order when they got divorced.
If they had she would have no come back now.
Secondly, whilst Kathleen is seeking £1.9 million from Dale the Supreme Court have not awarded her that and all they have said is she has a right to a financial order but it is likely to be much less than she wants.
So the moral of the story is if you separate and it’s not going to reconcile get divorced and finalise the finances.